Material Management, Tracking & Geneaology

Achieving clarity within a plant has become an important goal in today’s manufacturing world. Whether plant managers want to cut costs by making operators work more efficiently or minimize losses during a recall, having a clear understanding of what is happening on the production floor is essential to achieving these goals.

Material management with tracking and tracing capabilities is one of the tools that can provide this clarity. Tracking and tracing records all of the materials that enter or leave a plant and monitors the status of the materials while being consumed and/or produced.

Source: Siemens SIMATIC IT XFP

Sophos Electronics material management solutions with tracking & tracing offer the following functionality:

  • Material master definition management
  • Lot status management
  • Forward genealogy
  • Backward genealogy
  • Handling unit management
  • Material set point tracking
  • ERP integration
  • Warehouse Management and/or integration

Taking advantages of the above functionality offers many benefits to manufacturers. Information provided by Sophos Electronics material management solution with tracking & tracing leads to improved lean practices and optimization, provides integration with other systems, and reveals unsafe practices.

If operators are adding materials incorrectly, or even possibly adding the wrong materials, controls can be put in place to ensure operators work in the desired manner. Another benefit is that critical data will be accessible during a recall.

Managers will have the ability to trace back all original materials of a product and quickly determine which supplier they came from as well as identify other products that may have been contaminated. Recalls are a stressful and costly process. By having an effective tracking and tracing system, companies can reduce the time and money spent during these events.

Additionally, tracking and tracing data provided to the ERP system can be used as a cost analysis tool in evaluating the expenses of producing final goods. Other benefits include:

  • Lean practices & optimization
  • Faster recalls
  • Improved inventory management
  • Cost planning & analysis
  • Improved accountability of products
  • Reduction of inventory on production floor
  • Reduction of waste

The Need

Product Genealogy – a tracking and tracing necessity required by most any manufacturing enterprises, the need for which has been the genesis for most of the innovation produced in the earliest days of MES software.

Today, there is a wide array of products serving a variety of business needs that fall within scope of Manufacturing Execution; yet genealogy remains an integral starting point for most plant systems. Genealogy provides the backbone for data collection, statistical analysis, process control, production tracking, scheduling, supply chain management, and much more. Product Genealogy is the essential foundation of most successful MES implantations while offering one of the clearest returns on investment in and of itself.

The Benefits

  • Minimize unplanned costs and liabilities: When you have an electronic record of every component of every product produced, you can surgically attack recalls and quality issues. You can hold suppliers accountable for the quantity and quality of components delivered. You can discontinue production of anomalous material before further production costs are put in. By minimizing unplanned liabilities that can destroy production efficiency and profitability, you are securing the survival of your production enterprise even through the most difficult circumstances.

  • Identify sources of product loss and shrink: With a reliable record of goods received, you can calculate your theoretical yield. When your products shipped do not meet your projected yield, you can analyze every step in your process to determine the major sources of shrinkage. Are faulty gauges producing incorrect measurements? Are malfunctioning machines producing unacceptable quantities of scrap? Are plant operators deviating from the production recipe? Accurate genealogy reports are the key to tracking down and correcting these issues.

  • Real time inventory tracking: A key component to any KANBAN, supply chain management, or enterprise resource planning system is accurate consumption data. In order to understand what goods need replenishment, you must be confident in your assessment of what has been used. Genealogy data produced by an MES system feeds the basic data needs of any costing, planning or inventory replenishment system.

  • Monitor key process parameters: Production genealogy is more than just serial numbers and component quantities. Critical machine set points, operational measurements, and user comments may also be tracked. With this information at your fingertips, you can run statistical trend analysis, isolate anomalies, verify process adherence, and bring production under a level of control that would be otherwise impossible.

  • Government and client compliance: In addition to tight control and thorough production visibility, tracking production genealogy may be required to bring certain manufacturing enterprises into compliance with regulatory or client-imposed requirements. Enterprises in the fields of pharmaceuticals, aerospace & defense, automotive, food & beverage, and more are often required to maintain thorough genealogical reports in order to sell their goods.

The Catch

As potentially valuable as a Product Genealogy MES system can be, it is only as valuable as your data integrity. If operators cannot be made to provide the system with the required data, the system can become more of a hindrance than a boon. Data collection, if done improperly, can be invasive, costly, and ineffective. To ensure the maximum return on investment without major process complications and training costs, the MES system must leverage a number of methodologies and best-practices that can only be provided by an experienced team of software engineers and consultants.

The Solution

A quality MES system ensures data integrity by removing the possibility for operator error wherever possible. Machine set-points and measurements must be collected from automated sources wherever possible. Hand scanners and RFID tags must be used to minimize invasiveness.

Process checks and alerts must be configurable to ensure operator compliance. Operator screens must be made simple enough that little to no personnel training is required. Reporting mechanisms must be designed in a way to allow for the quick retrieval and contextualization of real-time plant data.

At Sophos Electronics, our experienced team of MES professionals believes that a properly implemented Genealogy MES system can add value to nearly any production enterprise. With a variety of product options and locations across the globe, we are capable of delivering quality and cost effective systems to your factories worldwide.